In recent years, migration has never been far from the headlines. The European migrant crisis – the worst since the Second World War – saw several million people endure exhausting and dangerous journeys to the continent. Refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, and many other countries, as well as those escaping extreme poverty, risked their lives trying to reach Europe by land and sea. Thousands died trying to do so. As the EU struggled to reach a consensus about how to resolve the crisis, migration became increasingly politically charged. Fears over immigration were a factor in the Brexit vote and have fuelled the resurgence of the far-right across Europe.
Continue reading “Gendering of Migration” →
To many, shopping is part of the everyday makeup of life which slips beneath the radar. Quotidian and ubiquitous, we may have assumed that shopping and the stores which facilitate such transactions, have a history which fits firmly into the canons of economic history. Whilst there is still doubtless an interesting economic story to be told, last week the Workshop learned more about the fascinating gender and sexuality history of shopping in department stores.
Public interest in the history of department stores is growing. The popular ITV period drama Mr. Selfridge, which detailed the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge and the emergence of Selfridge’s department store on London’s Oxford Street, was well received and brought the twentieth century history of the department store into living rooms across Britain on Sunday evenings.
Continue reading “Gender, Sex and Shopping” →
In 2018, debates on how sex work should be regulated continue to cause friction. Is prostitution the ‘oldest profession’ or the ‘oldest oppression’? Perhaps both. Different states have taken different approaches to the regulation of prostitution. In some places, the practice of prostitution is illegal – in 2010, Iceland even made lap dance clubs illegal. Other states such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, have all legalised prostitution. Alternatively, the “Nordic model” penalises those who buy sex, but not those who sell it.
Amnesty International is a world advocate in legalised prostitution. They argue that the abuse and discrimination that this marginalised group of – mainly – women, faces, is more adequately combatted when the practice is not illegal. This makes sense, after all, if prostitutes are hidden from the state, the state cannot ensure their wellbeing. On the other hand, in places where prostitution has been decriminalised, trafficking of women into brothels, and illegal brothels continue to facilitate abuses. The fact that it is mainly women selling sex to men arguably means that the practice perpetuates gendered ideas of sexuality in which women are passive, providers of sex, and men full of sexual desire that must be fulfilled.
Continue reading “The Regulation of Prostitution: an ongoing question” →
Last week I spent two days in Oxford at the brilliant Women in the Humanities conference Women’s Suffrage and Beyond. Here are some reflections from the conference on the suffrage centenary and doing women’s history in 2018.
Continue reading “Women’s suffrage, public history and feminist activism” →